In this Winnipeg Jets Weekly Team News Report, we at NHLTradeTalk.com will look at some of the news surrounding the Jets this week. The Jets opened on the road, taking on the New York Rangers and lost 6-4. The team’s losses on defense started to show up quickly and, as you will read, the team’s former star defenseman Jacob Trouba came back to haunt them – big time.
Here’s the rest of the news.
Item One: Bryan Little’s Concussion Keeps Him Out of Season’s Opener
Bryan Little, who left a preseason game after a high hit, is under the NHL’s concussion protocol and won’t play until he’s cleared. So far, the Jets have not released any timetable for his return, and the 31-year-old right-winger isn’t likely to play during the team’s four-game road trip that begins the season.
During the time the Edmonton native is out of the line-up, Andrew Copp will likely take a second-line role beside Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor. However, when Little is cleared, he should take over his regular spot in the line-up and join the second power-play unit. Mark Letestu, who before coming to the Jets played for both the Edmonton Oilers and the Columbus Blue Jackets, will likely round out the Jets’ bottom six.
Item Two: Jacob Trouba Comes Back to Haunt the Jets
It’s hard to lose a player who’s a star, and the Jets certainly lost a star defenseman when they traded Jacob Trouba to the Rangers. How ironic that the two teams met in the first game of the season – it only added to the drama. Sadly, for the Jets, it didn’t take Trouba long to score payback on his old team.
The Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff noted earlier in the week, “Yeah, the schedule maker was looking to do something I guess.”
Trouba scored a goal and two assists as he led the Rangers to a 6-4 win. He also logged an amazingly high 24:26 minutes of ice time. How did he feel about the game? “It’ll be something I remember. Right now, I’m not thinking about it as much. But one day I might look back on it, and it’ll be pretty cool.”
Item Four: Blake Wheeler Looks Good, But It’s Not Enough
In the opening game loss to the Rangers, Blake Wheeler scored a pair of goals, but they weren’t enough. Both goals came during the second period, and both goals were game-tying goals. The Jets only lead came during a third-period goal by Kyle Connor, however, the Rangers scored the final three goals of the game to take the victory.
It’s no surprise that Wheeler started the season with these goals because he’s had back-to-back 91-point seasons. In a round-about way, the Jet’s loss of quality players on defense might actually impact Wheeler’s scoring positively.
That’s because it’s likely that the team will engage in lots of high-scoring games (such as the 6-4 loss to the Rangers). When the game is wide open, all offensive players’ scoring totals are likely to benefit.
Item Five: Nikolaj Ehlers Scores 200th Point in Opening Game
Nikolaj Ehlers scored three assists against the Rangers (and added eight shots), and his scoring was a bit of a milestone. The assists lifted his career scoring totals to 202 points.
Ehlers, Wheeler, and Mark Scheifele were a formable top line and combined to score three goals, each one assisted by Ehlers. Ehlers had a down season in 2018-19, scoring a disappointing 37 points (he scored 64 points in 2016-17). Should the 23-year-old winger stick on the top line and avoid the injuries he sustained last season, he has a chance to have his career-best season.
Ehlers reported, “I’m happy with where I am right now.” He obviously has bigger expectations for himself this season. We wish him success.
What’s Up Next with the Winnipeg Jets?
The Jets go into Prudential Center to play the New Jersey Devils tonight. It will be home-opener for the Devils, who are a difficult team to predict this season. The Devils might, in fact, be better than they were last season after the addition of left-winder Nikita Gusev from the Vegas Golden Knights.
We shall see how this turns out. With former NHL MVP Taylor Hall bearing down on the Jets’ defense, it might be another high-scoring game. I’m predicting a 5-4 victory for the Jets.
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